I’ll share a secret with you: I’ve always wished I was a painter. I envy artists who have their own painting studio where they can hide away and listen to music and paint whatever they want. I think it’s the introvert in me who loves this idea of solitude, and not having to please the masses. I know in my mind I have romanticized the artist’s life completely, but it would still remain my dream even if the reality were less glamourous.
One such artist who forever inspires me these days is San Francisco based painter and textile designer Kindah Khalidy. I can stare at her work on Instagram for ages. She has this playful style and uses colors so vividly with her organic shapes and loose strokes that everything always looks just so happy. Her work reminds me of the paintings that my four-year olds make in art class, working from their heart without any inhibitions.
Kindah’s work was the perfect place to start when I introduced my students to acrylic paints for the first time.
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~ Fabric pieces (mine are from an old sheet)
~ Gesso or white tempera paint
~ Acrylic paints (I used Liquitex Basics but any inexpensive paints will do – make sure to get white)
~ Damp sponge and glass of water
~ Embroidery hoops (I used 8″/20cm)
~ Yarn for pom-poms (optional)
~ Begin by tracing a circle on the fabric with a pencil (I used the outside part of the hoop). Paint gesso inside the circle. Wait for it to dry.
~ Next, squeeze a dollop of each color on the white plate. Give each child their own palette.
~ Hang up a few samples of Kindah’s work.
~ Let the kids explore, encouraging them to mix as many colors as they can.
~ When their painting is dry, place into hoop and twist until tight. Cut off excess fabric and use a little hot glue to tuck it in.
Before the children began painting, we had a conversation about abstract art. I don’t have to have this conversation with the three, four, and five-year olds because everything they do is basically abstract. But at about the age of six, children begin to learn how to draw representational objects. Things like hearts, flowers, peace signs, trees, dogs, and their name in bubble letters. Endless bubble letters. They are very proud that they can draw these things that have meaning to them, so they draw them everywhere. Eventually, they get stuck. I see it happen, and then by the time they are eight, they can’t think of anything to draw during free time. By age eight they realize that they need to move on from the peace signs and bubble letters, but they don’t know how. So when I have an older group, above age six, I always start each drawing and painting project off with a talk about abstract art. I encourage them to think about shapes, line, stroke, color, and texture. Rather than “things”. It helps so much to have an artist to study that they can emulate. Kindah’s work is perfect for this project because they can see how she works with color and shape without drawing anything immediately recognizable.
Each child had their own style, as is always the case. One child finished in about 10 minutes. She was interested in filling up the space as quickly as possible. (This is always her pace, by the way.) Another child finished filling her space but then looked at Kindah’s work and decided to go back and add some polka dots. And then another child spent over an hour on her painting. She mixed as many colors as she could, she explored overlapping the paint on her canvas, she was in such a zone that she didn’t even realize that the others had left the table. It was magical to watch. At the end, she wanted to do another. She said that her grandma used acrylics and that she had always wanted to try and that now it was her FAVORITE! It’s always incredible as an educator to be able to expose a child to a material that speaks to them.
Can’t you envision a whole wall covered in these colorful round paintings? They turned out so amazing.
To see a different version of this project, see how Creative Live did this as a DIY.
I’d love to see your interpretations of this project so tag me at @artbarblog on Instagram or send me a photo if you do it!